Oana Leonte: Head of Marketing

In feature 017 we spoke with Oana Leonte, who began her career as an intern at Walt Disney. Since then, she has progressed through the creative and marketing industry to become Head of Marketing for Puma Accessories. 

Over her 9 years working with PUMA, Oana has worked on a variety of things: from working with top motorsport partners like Red Bull Racing, Porsche Design and BMW Motorsport, to launching PUMA’s first Smart Watch. Oana shares with us a typical day in her life, her favourite PUMA marketing campaign she worked on, what’s she’s most excited about in the future of marketing and so much more. 

1. Can you tell us about your background and how you got into the field of marketing? When did your marketing career begin, what is your current role(s) and what role(s) have you previously had in marketing?

I never saw myself as a “creative” growing up. So doing the creative work I get to do today, is pretty wild. I’ve always been the analytical, highly organized, hard working individual, and only a few years into my career I figured that I actually have a creative brain as well.

My marketing career officially started in 2013 when I joined a Spanish fashion brand called Springfield as their International Marketing Manager, however I did work in marketing indirectly through my previous roles in entertainment and consumer products / licensing at Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount.

I guess having had the opportunity to start my career as an intern at Walt Disney, back in 2002, in Madrid, Spain, gave me the enormous chance to learn from the very best in marketing and understand what it takes to connect with consumers at such a deep personal level.

2. Are you able to describe a typical day in your life as Head of Marketing Accessories at PUMA?

Every day looks so different! But my favourite day of the week is a Monday which is always a team building day for me with my team.

We start with a planning meeting ahead of the week, going through our priorities and upcoming initiatives, tasks and imminent activations. Every member of the team shares what they’re working on and how their week looks like, any need for support or feedback from me, or open questions that we should clarify.

We have team lunch in our PUMA canteen, chat about our weekends, or share any cool TikTok trends or cool influencers coming up. We sometimes need to educate some of our younger team members on music of the 80s and 90s (some of them did not know who Boys 2 Men were, I won’t name any names LOL!!) so we work AND have fun, laugh a lot and learn together.

After lunch I typically have loads of different meetings and calls until about 5.30pm when I drive back home to see my two boys, Axel and Noah. And after my kids go to bed (typically around 9pm), I have some “me” time working on my Unmtchd. podcast or newsletter.

3. You must have worked on a lot of campaigns in your time with PUMA. Are you able to share one of your favorite campaigns please? Could you walk us through the campaign brief to results and share your top tip for delivering an effective marketing campaign?

I had the immense honour to work on some amazing partnerships and campaigns in my time at PUMA – from working with top motorsport partners like Red Bull, Porsche or BMW, to launching our first Smart Watch, to my current role in Accessories, my time at PUMA has been such a learning curve and a blast!

Probably the campaign I am most proud of is Hometown Heroes, a headwear campaign that launched in 2022 globally in collaboration with street style influencer Upscale Vandal, and which allowed us to connect with the rich culture of the streets and the neighbourhoods of New York.

It took us about two years to work on the product, the story, the partnership with Upscale Vandal and the outcome was great.

We saw an increase of +95% in sales year on year, and +120% over 4 seasons! The response from our markets was truly inspiring and we even localized this campaign in South Africa, Nordics, Mexico and more. A real team effort that I will always be so proud about!

4. What are three aspects you’re most excited about for the future of marketing?

I am so excited about the future! So many things are emerging every day in marketing, but there are 3 things that I am currently looking into that I feel have the probability to impact how we do marketing, and FAST:

1. AI – from making processes more efficient, cost effective and easier, to boosting creativity and lowering the bar to entry the creative space for many small companies or teams out there.

2. Personalization – linked to AI, but not only. I always say that “the future of marketing is personal” because consumers want more and more to see themselves reflected in the brands they choose to buy from. At the same time, the advances in tech empower brands to understand consumers more intimately and create a much more bespoke offer for them.

3. All brands will end up being tech brands eventually if they want to keep up, become more cost efficient, and create more immersive experiences for their consumers. Meaning, they will have to shift their thinking from just focusing on the product, to thinking about how to fully integrate the right tech which can expand the reach and ultimately the business itself.

5. Would you mind sharing the biggest challenge you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

I never spoke about this before, but many years ago, I landed on a job that was not a fit for me in so many ways. The company, the team, the mindset, the environment, the office space – none of these things were motivating or inspiring and I understood how much all these things really matter to me.

I lasted 1 month in that before I decided to quit. On the flip side, this experience helped me understand myself better and realize what was the environment I needed to do my best work. Since then, I’ve learned to align much better my personal values with those of the people and companies I’ve worked for and it worked out so much better!

6. You are also the Founder of the Unmtchd. podcast. Are you able to share what the podcast is about and why you chose to launch a podcast?

Unmtchd. is the expression of my entire marketing philosophy and playbook really. It’s one word that supports my belief that the future of marketing is personal, and that the brand and the personality should sit at the centre of our marketing tactics.

It’s a podcast and a newsletter that I have created to give space for meaningful conversations with industry leaders but also people from all walks of life and areas that are not directly related to mine.

My hope is that Unmtchd. becomes a dynamic platform dedicated to marketing leadership and innovation, with the mission to elevate the industry dialogue around the future of marketing.

7. What advice would you give to someone looking to begin their career in marketing?

Never stop exploring. Develop a mindset of always being an intern at life. What marketing looks like today is NOT what it will look like in 5 years from now and nobody can really predict how it will look like, so the only thing you can do is stay curious and learn to think creatively.

The other crucial thing is to look for bosses rather than jobs, as much as you can. It’s not always an easy task, especially at the beginning of your career when you tend to jump on every opportunity out there, BUT… it pays off. A good boss will help you develop, will open the right doors and speak about you in the right rooms. They will show you your weaknesses and help you work on them so you can get better.

8. Where can our audience follow and engage with yourself, Unmtchd. and PUMA on social media?

I love to share my thoughts on LinkedIn, it’s my favorite platform right now. But I am also on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, as well as on every podcasting platform.

Leaving some of the links below.

Website: www.theunmtchd.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/oanaleonte/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/oana-leonte/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOnPhRbv9fofP4grdDe0gIw

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1TT3WIq0fUSnGSs4wVwK3Q

Thank you for reading our latest Creator Behind The Campaign. If you enjoyed it, please share it forward. Make sure you’re following Because of Marketing on LinkedInInstagram and TikTok for all the greatest marketing campaigns. 

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